The Royal Air Force (RAF) is set to deploy its 617 squadron – known as the “Dambusters” – allegedly against Daesh targets in Iraq and Syria.
The Ministry of Defense says F35B stealth fighter jets will join so-called Operation Shader from the Carrier Strike Group centered on the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier.
Eight RAF and 10 US Marine Corps F35Bs are based on HMS Queen Elizabeth, and these assets are joined by an additional six Royal Navy ships, a submarine, 14 naval helicopters and a company of Royal Marines.
Trying to justify the latest deployment, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, claimed that he was in no doubt that “violent extremism and the toxic ideology underpinning it is still rooted” in the West Asia region.
“We’re going to conduct operations in support of the government of Iraq, fighting the remnants of Daesh in Iraq and Syria – and continuing to take the fight to them in their sanctuary where otherwise they would be threatening the streets of the United Kingdom and our allies”, the commander of the RAF added.
The intensified RAF role in the Iraqi and Syrian theatres takes place against the backdrop of greater stability in these countries as demonstrated by the full retreat of Daesh and allied terrorist groups.
This will inevitably lead to speculation that the so-called “Dambusters” – who gained notoriety for their role in attacking German dams during the Second World War – are pursuing broader objectives over Iraqi and Syrian skies than just tracking and attacking Daesh positions.